A man in black unspools wire across a forlorn highway in the desert. His car is parked behind a dilapidated billboard that reads, “Oasis Motor Court.” We get a series of close-ups: a cactus, hammer and nail, truck dashboard. The street hews the beige landscape like a poorly-healed scar. As the green-and-yellow truck approaches, the man in black tugs the unfurled wire that’s been run through a pulley and attached to a hose strewn with nails across the asphalt. The gray-bearded driver from last week’s Touch of Evil homage opening sees the strip and slams the brakes, but it’s too late and his tires rupture.
He exits the truck, gun in hand; he’s been here before. He handles the gun like a pro.
The man in black sneaks behind him, holds a gun to his head, ties him up. He removes his mask: It’s Mike. He carves up the truck tires until he finds one full of cash, then he leaves the driver gagged and bound. As Nacho will later say, he again refused to pull the trigger; as Nacho will tell us, Mike’s morals again have devastating consequences for others.
“Nailed,” written and directed by series co-creator Peter Gould, is another triumph of slick, stylish camerawork that extrapolates underlying metaphors and expounds on unspoken character developments. Visual details, like points of punctuation in legalese, change everything here. Chuck adjusting his tie, trying to look normal, or the numbers 1 and 6 being switched on a legal document.
Howard doesn’t think Chuck should go to the courthouse, where they’re assumedly just going through the motions to secure Mesa Verde’s proposal for expansion — he’s concerned about Chuck’s “comfort.”
Chuck says, “I find victory laps very comforting.”
Chuck’s car pulls out and drives away, and the camera pans to follow, passing over Jimmy, who is hiding behind a tree.
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Every shot during the approval hearing scene is immaculately composed. When Chuck enters the court, he comes into focus, his face tightening as he approaches the camera. This is where he belongs, but the building, with its metal detectors and buzzing lights, seems to reject him. The row of Mesa Verde representatives sitting parallel to the officials are shot to be flush, precise. When it comes to light that the address of Mesa Verde’s proposed expansion has been mixed up (thanks to Jimmy), from 1261 to 1216, forcing the hearing to be delayed another six weeks, the camera slowly zooms in from a low angle on Chuck, on the overheard lights, the sound of static pervading the scene as electronic noise cackles like a witch’s laughter.
“I don’t understand,” Chuck later says, trying to ascertain how this could happen. He’s so careful, so assiduous.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Howard assures him. But Chuck knows better.
“This was no mistake.”
NEXT: Kim Gets a Call